social media and blogging

I attended the second annual Social Media Marketing Summit for Law Firms yesterday in New York City, hosted by Business Development Institute. Most of the excellent speakers and panelists were lawyers, law firm administrators, and in-house counsel, discussing why and how they use content – blogs and social media – to find clients and counsel. Kevin O’Keefe moderated an experienced panel to wrap up the excellent program.

I scribbled a few notes which turned into a couple of pages. Here are the highlights:

Law Firm trends

  • Most law firms have a Google+ page but only 30 percent are active
  • Majority of large law firms are creating substantive content, but not effectively sharing that content on their website or social channels (See more: The Social Law Firm White Paper)
  • Marketing and recruiting are focus of social for law large firms
  • Firms start at the practice group level to experiment with social and blogging

Content

  • Break PDF content into 500-750 word blog posts , remove jargon. Use PDFs for white papers to get people’s email address
  • Content comes from lawyers. Marketing department curates and distributes

General Counsel’s perspective on finding and hiring law firms

  • Content is key to finding and validating prospective firms
  • Website navigation important; search functionality critical
  • Ask clients for feedback on your website
  • Practice Group pages not as important
  • Association groups useful for networking
  • Marketing pitch with huge folders of information, images and bios less useful
  • Blogs, social media, webinars, conference speaker – all good calling cards – proves you’re an expert – gets you in the door
  • Email blasts annoying. After intro, don’t spam with irrelevant emails.
  • Offer alternative billing arrangements
  • It’s the lawyers and law firms responsibility to see what general counsels are talking about. Subscribe to blogs, lists, etc
  • * BestLawyer, SuperLawyer accolades irrelevant

Why and how law firms should blog

  • Attorney authored blogs raise profile of both attorney and firm
  • Challenges:
    • Lack of engagement from attorneys – 40%
    • Lack of talented writers – 25%
    • Lack of dedicated content professionals – 15%
  • Perform audit of current newsletters and alerts
  • Create blogging cheat sheet for attorneys, including photo and image usage
  • Have an in-house “ad agency” – writer and designer to create graphics and format copy
  • Content ideas:
    • Social media channels
    • Client FAQs
    • Incoming search terms
    • Visuals  – increases views and engagement
    • Videos – lawyer background or practice, short & sweet
    • Surveys, Reports, Studies
    • News Jacking – e.g.: Supreme Court decisions, new tax laws, healthcare reform
  • For blogs written by individual, don’t have a hierarchy of check points before posting. Remove barriers to creating and posting.
  • For multiple blogs:
    • Assign an editor for each practice area
    • Create blog landing page with navigation on main site
    • Front load each blog with graphics that are thematically consistent. Tip: use PowerPoint to maintain consistent theme
  • Train, train, train:
    • Have a monthly lunch & learn for the firm’s blog authors
    • If writing about a company, do due diligence
  • Use gamification to leverage lawyers’ competitiveness – e.g.: Top-10 most viewed blogs, newsletters and updates each week across platforms
  • Use content aggregators to amplify content – e.g.: JD Supra, Lexology, Mondaq
  • Get found by syndicating via press releases, etc

How law firms should use social media

  • Slow and steady
  • Start with strategy: How does social media and blogging support and amplify firm’s vision and strategy
  • Social media policy in 2 words: Be smart
  • Not every one at the firm will get it. That’s OK. Start with the ones that want to do and they’ll become the champions
  • Listen first then initiate engagement around topics
  • Turn off the fire hose – not all content is useful or relevant
  • Curate content – calendar posts – have a road map
  • Social media not the job of the firms’ marketing department but every lawyer at the firm

Start with LinkedIn

  • Educate attorneys on business rationale for LinkedIn (where potential clients are). This applies to other platforms and initiatives as well
  • Identify firm’s active LinkedIn users. Go after them. Their success will lead others to hop on board
  • Train, train, train
  • Create a strong company profile
  • Share strategic content
  • Create a careers page
  • Involve professional responsibility attorney at the firm for added credibility re: ethical issues
  • Individual profiles: craft well branded summary
  • Not just attorneys – involve professional staff including department heads – it’s a professional development tool for them. They also become evangelizers
  • Have marketing liasons for practice groups
  • Launch an internal monthly email campaign on how to better leverage LinkedIn

These tips and advice are particularly resonant coming from lawyers and firms who are trying, testing, and finding success, creating content, blogging, and engaging and amplifying their voice via social media.